By Alma Hill
Tanya Wright is a woman at peace.
When I met her for our interview, she was relaxed, her curly hair pulled high in a messy ponytail. As she invited me in, I noticed she was barefoot, and she exuded a very comfortable sense of confidence.
A professional actress, Tanya has a very impressive resume under her belt. You may recognize from her role on the award winning Netflix Original Series Orange Is the New Black, where she plays Crystal Burset, the wife of transgender woman Sophia Burset, (played by Laverne Cox). If prison dramedies aren’t your style, you may have caught Tanya on True Blood where she plays Deputy Kenya Jones. These credits are just two small selections on a long list of lucrative achievements.
These days, Tanya is working on a major project of her own: Hairiette of Harlem. A kind of combination venture, Wright describes Hairette of Harlem as a lifestyle brand instead of simply a hair care line. The brand includes three parts- a book written by Wright, titled “I Found God in My Hair”, a web series titled “Hairiette of Harlem”, and finally a hair care line.
“I hope to create a community where women are connected to their hair in a fun and insightful way with all of these things I’ve created around it.” She said. “I’m interested in the spiritual opportunity that our hair presents. That and the fun and playful aspects of our hair.”
A spiritual woman, Tanya asserts that gaining control of her hair really helped her gain control of her life. “Everything makes sense. I just felt like everything got on track.”
After reading Curly Like Me by Teri LaFlesh, Tanya did the Big Chop in 2010, and hasn’t looked back since. Like most of us, she’s had her struggles but she learned from them.
“I think there are three things that are very important for people.” She said “One is to get a good cut so that your hair, in its natural state can lay in a way that looks uniform and healthy. Obviously moisture is a huge thing. And keeping your hair shiny, is a huge thing. A lot of us have hair that can get really dull really quickly, so having products that keep your hair shiny is very important”
When asked what her favorite products were, Tanya referred back to her upcoming line of hair products which will be included in the Hairiette of Harlem brand. “It’s just born out of people asking me what I put in my hair. So I tolf them. I don’t use shampoos or anything like that” The Shea and Olive oil based line will includes a Co Wash, a Curl Cream, and an Oil Blend and is set for release in early 2015 so make sure to keep an eye out for that.
The book, I Found God In My Hair, is already available for purchase. Based on Wright’s own hair care journey, I Found God outlines 98 lessons that Tanya learned during her natural hair journey that helped her grow mentally and spiritually.
The web series in the works, also titled Hairiette of Harlem, Wright describes as a mockumentary of her life. “Its based on my early days of being an actress and all that I learned from my hair.” she says.
Wrapping up the interview with a quick snapshot, I was practically out the door before I remembered that I forgot to ask the quintessential natural hair question.
“Oh! What’s your hair type?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t even pay attention to things like that.”
“So just whatever works?” I pressed
She smiled. It was a knowing smile, a kind smile, as though the lessons she has learned, her journey, both physically and spiritually, and her growth were things she somehow knew, I had yet to face.
“Mmmhm.” She said “Have a good night.”
Make sure to check out Hairiette.com for news on upcoming appearances, news, and release dates.